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UN: South Sudan experiencing 'horrendous' human rights situation

[JURIST] The UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) [official website] on Friday released a report [text, download] describing a multitude of atrocious human rights violations taking place in South Sudan as part of the South Sudan Civil War [CFR backgrounder]. This report describes [OHCHR News report] "in searing detail" violations including "a [g]overnment-operated 'scorched earth policy,' and deliberate targeting of civilians for killing, rape and pillage." The report places majority blame on state officials for the crimes, stating that some allied forces have been allowed to rape women in lieu of wages. The report focuses on the shocking scale of sexual violence in the nation, where in a five month period last year, the UN recorded more than 1300 reports of rape in just one of South Sudan's ten states. The report further relates that the majority of casualties during the conflict are civilian causalities that are the result of deliberate attacks on civilians and not actual combat operations. The report concluded by recommending the Human Rights Council continue to monitor developments and establish a dedicated mechanism to maintain accountability during the conflict. The report also calls on a new government to take "effective action to stop current violations and abuses of the rights of children,and to prevent their recurrence, and to eliminate sexual and gender-based violence." The report further recommends that the UN Security Council consider expanding sanctions imposed on South Sudan and referring the matter to the International Criminal Court [official websites].

The conflict in South Sudan has taken more than 50,000 lives and has displaced over one and a half million people. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] this week urged [JURIST report] the African Union to establish a hybrid court to prosecute members of the South Sudan government for war crimes committed in the Western Equatoria region. Last month the United Nations Mission in South Sudan strongly condemned [JURIST report] the violence that took place between Shilluk and Dinka youths at one of its Protection of Civilian sites in South Sudan. The OHCHR reported in January that "shocking crimes" have been committed [JURIST report] in the war-torn South Sudan.

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